Your definitive guide to ski and snowboard etiquette.
In This Ski/Snowboard Article You Will Discover:
Chairlift Do’s & Don’ts (mostly the latter)
Lodge life tips
How to be a better human
I just returned from another awesome day at Whistler Blackcomb. And while spring has not quite officially sprung, it was above-zero and sunny all day, reminding me that season’s end is just a couple months off. All good things…
No. Not all good things. Permit me a rant.
I don’t care if you ski in jeans. I don’t care if you snowplow for years. I don’t care if you have multiple yard-sale bails. In fact, I like watching people wipe out (as long as they stand up afterwards) and I can laugh at myself, too.
(Don’t judge, there’s a reason Jerry of the Day has 1.4 million followers and counting.)
But I do care about the following 10 Deadly Sins of the Slopes. Let’s turf them for the 2018/19 season, OK?
My SlopesideShit List, in no particular order of severity:
1. Singles Line Cheaters
I might get some pushback on this, but I stand firm—if you’re skiing or riding with a group, stay out of the singles line. I don’t want to see three friends scoot into the singles line to get past the crowds, yakking it up the whole time then filing one-by-one into open seats. Some of us ski solo. That’s what a singles line is for.
2. Beer Cans Below
I could better understand the mindset of a goddamn Trump voter than I could the person who travels into our beautiful alpine only to pitch crushed beer cans off the chairlift. Areas with night-skiing are particularly nasty. Yes—all litter is bad. But a Clif bar wrapper could be simply negligent. A crushed beer can is always purposeful.
3. Chairlift Chuffers
Despite the fact that most, if not all, ski resorts in Canada have banned cigarette smoking on chairlifts, I still come across the occasional jackass who lights up while giving me a sly “you don’t mind, do you?” look. Yeah. I do. I minded when I was 10 and it was legal and I mind even more now. I didn’t escape the city to breathe your toxic fumes.
4. Smartphone DJs
People who play music sans earphones should have their friggen passes revoked. No one cares about your mash-ups, dude! Literally every music player since the days of transistor radios has had an earphone jack. (Some newfangled ones don’t even need wires!) Use it.
5. End-of-Day Decapitators
Carrying your skis on your shoulder just makes good sense. But realize the tails—the parts you can’t see—are sticking out as much as a metre behind your noggin. So when you stop in the middle of a crowd and swing suddenly around, you risk lopping my head off with those freshly sharpened edges. Move with purpose, folks!
6. Green-Run Racers
It had been a while since I spent real time on a beginner run, but in recent years as I taught my wife the ol’ pizza/french fries, I found myself hanging out on the flats. And I cannot believe how many people I see skimming through ski schools and buzzing beginners. Newsflash—if you can straight-line a green it might be time to move to a blue. I get that greens often traverse from lift-to-lift. But it’s like a “School Zone” on the road. Slow the eff down. You’re scaring the noobs.
7. Powder Pushers
Maybe you got in over your head. Maybe you lack technique. But when you cruise into an untracked, billowy run of powder and side-slip all the fluffy stuff away in a desperate attempt to get down upright, you ruin it for everyone else. Point ‘em—or stay on the groomers.
8. Tail Gunners
I don’t expect to keep my skis pristine. But I’d like most of the damage to be my fault, OK? So when I’m pushing into the chairlift line and you go skimming over my tails (likely with one hand on your iPhone), it pisses me off. Pretty sure I’m not alone here.
9. Mid-Run Relaxers
Ever notice how ski runs tend to undulate? They descend the mountain usually not in one constant slope, but in a succession of lips and ledges with descents in between. You’ll recognize those lips and ledges by the ubiquitous orange “slow” sign atop. Or, you know, by their flatness. They are good spots to rest and enjoy the view. The slopes in between are where you should sit only if you fancy being impaled by my Elans.
10. Lodge Hogs
I know your matching goggles, helmet and gloves are pretty sweet. But not so sweet they need a seat to themselves at the lodge, right?
Most of the time was spent in Arrowhead and Silent Lake. Algonquin was a bit of a bust, as the ski trails were closed on the one day I had to visit. Still gorgeous though—I would love to return. (And I saw wild turkeys!)
The trip was awesome. Some much needed peace-and-quiet, plus a lot of material for Explore’s Winter issue (and online at explore-mag.com)
Here is a teaser. Images from a week in winter—real winter.
This image from my first night at Arrowhead Provincial Park reminded me of a Tom Thomson painting. Fitting, for Ontario.
Perfect conditions for a ski, if you ask me. (Arrowhead.)
My cabin in the snow, Arrowhead Provincial Park.
Arrowhead has a gorgeous ice-skating trail through the woods—plus this picturesque warm-up area.
At first I thought this image didn’t turn out. But I actually really like the shadows and textures. (Arrowhead.)
It was -15 and snowing. This was a welcome sight on the cross-country ski trails of Arrowhead PP.
Stubbs Falls, in Arrowhead PP—a must see. Neat to see it raging, even at sub-zero temperatures.
Fresh snow. A cozy cabin. Perfect. (Arrowhead.)
Bonnie’s Pond Snowshoe Trail is must-visit in Silent Lake Provincial Park. Even though the light snowpack meant I didn’t need snowshoes!
I love this image—wind gusts were coming on and off through the woods. I snapped this one during a heavy gust… looks like I could get lost out there… (Silent Lake.)
Hands down, the best viewpoint on Bonnie’s Pond Snowshoe Trail. (Silent Lake.)
Serenity level +100! (Silent Lake.)
Honestly, I’m always a little nervous walking on frozen lakes. Even when I know it’s safe. (Silent Lake.)
Crisp and cold. (Really cold—like -20.) Silent Lake Provincial Park at night.
Looking back, 2017 had some amazing travel moments. And a couple epiphanies, too.
In This 2017 Retrospective You Will Discover:
Top Travel Moments
New Plans & Destinations
A New Style of Travel
It’s fair to say 2017 was a weird year. For not just me, but the planet at-large. The news cycle was often simply surreal. And personally, it was challenging in many ways.
If you’re hoping for the gossip on that last point, well, this is a travel blog—not a confessional. So too bad.
The year also brought with it some vital travel epiphanies. Over the past few years, I’ve been travelling at a frenetic pace. I’m no digital nomad, but certainly a dozen or more weeklong-plus trips per year hasn’t been uncommon.
I’m slowing it down. I’m taking my time. Being choosy. Looking for meaningful experiences and engaging stories.
How much am I slowing things down? Well, I’ve started using a Polaroid!
Yeah, I’m that guy now.
I’ll be telling my friends: “If you’d like to see the real photos from our life… well, they’re not on Instagram. Come over. Have a beer. I’ll show you them in person.”
Professionally, it also means a few other things:
Travelling less. Yup, you have a travel writer saying he’s going to do “less.” Maybe 2018 will be a weird year too?
But in that sense, travelling bigger. And with more purpose.
Skipping media FAM tours. If you’re not in the biz, you may not know what I mean… but for fellow travel writers, it’ll be rare to see me joining a group FAM tour in 2018 and beyond. Why? I’m just not finding the stories I look for. They’re a distraction. A make-work project.
Looking for deeper stories. More adventure. And real adventure.
Email. Yes, I’m focusing on email storytelling. It’s not as sexy as Instagram, but done right, it can forge deeper connections. Check it.
(OK, so this is a bit of a confessional.)
I have big plans in the mix for 2018 already. They include winter camping in Ontario, a trip to the UK, a self-supported backcountry trek on the West Coast, cat-skiing in Central BC.. Plus… well, keep posted. (Maybe Central Asia too.)
I’m also going to spend more time exploring my home province. This is what I grew up doing. When I caught the international travel bug in my 20s, I’ve admittedly done far too little of it. You’ll already notice this trend in my 2017 lookback.
I truly love exploring British Columbia on my motorcycle. Camping on the beach. Canoeing inland lakes. I don’t need to hop a plane to South America to go on a trek. I have the West Coast Trail right here.
And, at the risk of sounding preachy—I’ve been giving a lot more thought to my carbon footprint. I can ride my bicycle, recycle, use LED lights, eat locally—but then I hop into a jetplane and gallivant across the continent for a trip I’m halfway interested in and it all goes out the window.
I think we all need to consider this more.
Plus, my wife and I got a puppy in November. So travel will be on fewer planes, more road trips. Which I’m stoked about.
For now, let’s take a look at my most memorable moments from 2017. And think about your own, too.
Happy New Year, friends.
I’d never spent as much time exploring Squamish, British Columbia as I did on a weekend in February. It’s long been one of my favourite places to hike and swim—so I decided to delve deeper and write an article about the town itself for the Spring 2017 British Columbia Magazine. Turns out there is some great food, quality beer and unique accommodations to complement the recreation. Fun times! ( I would have even had the chance to fly a stunt plane, if the snow hadn’t piled up.)
I had never skied Sun Peaks Resort. Located north of Kamloops, BC, it’s quietly the second-largest ski hill in Canada. My wife and I had two awesome days of skiing—but the dogsledding really stands out. I wrote about it in the Winter 2017 issue of British Columbia Magazine, and online at explore-mag.com. I love a ski-in village like Sun Peaks. It makes the trip special. Heck, I live a 30-minute drive from three mountains. I’m not going to drive to the slopes on my travels, too.
Park City in March! More new slopes, this time south of the border. I’d heard about how dry and awesome Utah powder is, but I always thought it just typical ski resort bravado. Turns out there is real science behind it. And the skiing was epic! I loved Park City Mountain. Deer Valley was nice too, but the town’s signature behemoth is a true must-ski for any powder hound. I wrote about it in the Winter 2017 print issue of explore as well as online at explore-mag.com. They are two very different articles. The print issue was very tongue-in-cheek. I thought it was funny, anyway.
Moving day—April 30. A form of travel, anyway. After six years in our apartment, we moved into a townhouse and had to get used to this view. (Which was pretty easy.) It also meant discovering a new neighbourhood in Vancouver, which has been fun. (#YVR: have you heard of Trans Am cocktail bar? Me neither, before I moved to #PortTown!)
A powerful memory from 2017 came in June. I went on a hike-in camping trip with the Union Gospel Mission to interview some graduates from their “Expeditions” program. Expeditions uses outdoor adventure as therapy to further participants’ recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. Chatting with Tom and Jonas was fascinating. I’m writing about the trip and the program in the Spring 2018 issue of explore.
Keeping with my mission to explore my home province more, I headed into BC’s dry Cariboo to visit Echo Valley Ranch & Spa in late-June. I’ll fully admit I was expecting to write a bit of a fluff piece on a luxury spa. What I found was a unique cultural crossroads and a meaty story. The above photo was taken when ranch co-owner Norm Dove took me for a spin in his Cesna on the final day. That’s BC’s Fraser Canyon—from evergreens to near-desert in just a few kilometres! I wrote about this experience in the Fall 2017 issue of British Columbia Magazine.
This image represents some serious travel plans in the making. After years of daydreaming about buying a Catalina 27 and sailing the West Coast of BC, I finally took a tangible step: sailing lessons. This is day one, in early July, when we learned the basics in an boat meant for kids. I’ve actually only been sailing once since completing the program, but 2018 is going to bring more time under the mast. Keep posted for some epic sailing trips in the years to come.
Tree Island… a.k.a. Sandy Island Marine Provincial Park… now properly known as Jáji7em and Kw’uhl Marine Park… was my stomping grounds as a kid. Some of my most treasured memories are of swimming, exploring and picnicking on its sunny shores. I hadn’t been since I was a teenager—which is, frankly, a crying shame. I spend a July day here, with family and friends. It’s a short boat ride from my family’s property on Vancouver Island, which is another 2018 resolution—spend more time in Deep Bay.
When I said I’d be looking for bigger and deeper stories, I meant it. Late July and early August saw me travelling to Nunavut to board a One Ocean Expeditions trip into the High Arctic. For two weeks we sailed north along the coast of Baffin Island and beyond to Devon and Cornwallis islands. Polar bears. Narwhals. Inuit culture. Walruses. Franklin graves. It was a trip to remember. We topped out beyond 74 degrees north. I love Canada’s Arctic. I feel a strong connection to the landscape up there. I’ll return again and again. I wrote about this trip in the Winter 2017 issue of explore—a meaty eight-page feature.
If you thought I’d spend all year in Canada, you don’t know me well. Late September and Early October saw my wife and I travelling to the Italian Riviera. Our reason was a family wedding—which was breathtaking—then we tacked on an additional 10 days to roam. We rented a Fiat in Milan, cruised to the coast to explore Zoagli, Portofino, Rapallo and Santa Margherita Ligure. Next stop: Cinque Terre (Vernazza, pictured) for some town-to-town hiking, before driving back to spend three days in Milan. And I haven’t written word about it, until now. I told you 2017 was weird! Look for some Italian road tripping tips to come in 2018.
Meet Chesterman. Named for a beach in Tofino, BC, he’s ushered some big changes for such a small guy. However, I haven’t slowed things down because of this puppy. The puppy is a part of the slow-down. Looking forward to our first camping trip next year.
I will close out the year in Tofino, surrounded by family. The above is a bit of a fabricated memory, as this photo was taken in 2016. You see, I’m in Tofino right now. Doing this. Perhaps exactly here. Although my wife is probably holding a dog leash, not a surfboard. (We can take turns.) Bring it on, 2018.
A family trip is a great experience if everything is planned correctly. Getting all the details squared away before you head out is the difference between a trip you’ll never forget and one that you wish you could forget.
Every trip has three major parts: What you’re doing, where you’ll stay, and how you’ll get there. Each area needs to be figured out in advance to make sure you have the best chance at a successful trip, and the less of each one that you must build from the ground up, the easier it is to have a worry-free trip.
Of course, many people buy complete vacation packages like cruises that simply require you to pay up, show up, and load up. But many of us prefer some more independence with the itinerary that lets us choose some of the details ourselves. Popular stops like Williamsburg and Branson have countless smaller attractions that give you a lot of latitude on your schedule.
At the same time, we don’t want to just pull into town and start wandering around looking for fun. That’s why most of us choose some type of established vacation spot.
So let’s start our conversation on a custom-built vacation by examining your destination. Cities all around the US like Palm Springs, and San Diego, along with Cabo San Lucas and others just across the border, are loaded with activities for your family to do. No matter what you want to do together, your family can find it in one of these popular areas.
Now that we have you thinking destinations, we need to talk about lodging. This can be overwhelming because even small vacation towns can have an incredible number of hotels, chalets, cabins, inns, bed and breakfasts, and other places to stay. The best thing to do is to get some consistency. Figure out a way to stay with the same company wherever you go. This is particularly easy with a timeshare, as you can see on welkresorts.com. The Welk family of resorts gives you consistent quality, convenient booking, and easy access to the most popular destinations.
So how are you going to get there? We all have a lot of decisions to make here. Much of the choice is driven by how much local mobility you’ll need. If you just plan to relax at the resort and enjoy the amenities on-site, air travel is perfect. You fly in, get a taxi to the resort, and reverse the process at trip’s end.
But if you’re thinking about traveling in the local area, you’ll either need to rent a car or simply drive your own. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. If you’re coming from very far away, driving can waste a lot of your time. And if your car breaks down, you may not have as many options as you would with a rental company.
If the trip is closer to home, air travel may be wasteful. You might have to drive an hour or two to a larger airport, go through security, have a layover, make a connection, and only end up saving an hour or two of travel time—and still need a rental. Anything within two or three hundred miles of home is an easy choice to drive.
Sometimes getting there is part of the fun. For travelers who fight city traffic day in and day out without ever driving the open road, it might be nice to cross the Rockies or see the Mississippi Delta. Driving your own car lets you stop in at the roadside diners and quirky tourist stops, but you can also travel by train and make better time without sacrificing the view.
Vacations are a fiercely individual thing for people. What sounds like fun to one family can sound boring to another. The more freedom you give yourself to do what you want to do, the better the chance you’ll have a great trip.
Located north of 70 degrees on the edge of Baffin Island, Pond Inlet is one of Canada’s most interesting, culturally rich and welcoming communities.
In This Arctic Travel Article You Will Discover:
Life in the High Arctic
Images of Pond Inlet
Inuit Culture & Traditions
Icebergs & More
Pond Inlet. Have you been? LOL Of course you haven’t. But don’t feel bad—few have.
Set on the northeast coast of Baffin Island, on the shores of Eclipse Sound and looking towards Bylot Island, Pond Inlet is remote. At 72 degrees north, it’s well beyond the Arctic Circle. About 1,600 people call the hamlet home, mostly Inuit. As such, it’s a culturally rich and unique community worthy of visit.
It’s also the jumping off point to Sirmilik National Park, one of the wilderness gems of Canada’s national park system. For the adventurous backcountry traveller, Sirmilik is a Holy Grail.
What’s life like in Pond Inlet? Well, for starters, the average daily high temperature in July is 10.5 degrees Celsius. In February, the average daily high is -30.
(The record low, with wind chill, was almost -70.)
Summer brings 24 hours of daylight; winter, 24 hours of darkness.
And the people are friendly. In fact, “friendly people” is their town slogan.
So friendly, when I stopped by for a visit last summer, they proudly spent hours showing us around—finishing with a breathtaking cultural demonstration.
See for yourself:
Ice speckled the still waters of Eclipse Sound as we approached Pond Inlet. (Bylot Island, pictured.)
An oasis on the tundra of Baffin Island—Pond Inlet. Pretty decent cellphone service up there, actually.
And they really were…
Our ship, the MV Sergey Vavilov, moored offshore of Pond Inlet.
Qamutiqs—traditionally towed by dogs, today by snowmobiles—are used throughout winter. In summer, they sit idle.
The thick permafrost makes paving roads nearly impossible.
Rosie donned a sealskin anorak and mukluks to show us around town.
This was once the community freezer—kept sub-zero year-round due to permafrost. Due to warming temperatures, it’s no longer safe to enter or use.
Everyone we met was thrilled we had come to see their town. (And the locals were heading out to hunt narwhal when we arrived.)
This was the original airport building. How would you like waiting for a flight in that at -30?
Across Eclipse Sound, Bylot Island resembles a chunk of the Rocky Mountains dropped in the High Arctic.
Downtown Pond Inlet.
Inuktitut is an extremely challenging language for non-Inuit.
Arctic Games on display. We had two Olympians with us, and neither could come close to doing this.
Pure love and celebration; Nunavut’s official song.
Oh that view.
Home to the world’s most northerly Tim Horton’s!
Pond Inlet beach. Care to go for a swim? It’s August and the water is a balmy three degrees Celsius.
A supply ship passes through Eclipse Sound on its yearly tour of the Nunavut Archipelago.
Travel with me to Turtle Islands National Park, in Malaysian Borneo—and discover how you can help save the world’s sea turtles.
In This Malaysia Travel Article You Will Discover
A Remote Nature Preserve of the Coast of Borneo
The Plight of the World’s Sea Turtles
How You Can Visit & Help
The world’s sea turtles are in danger. Let’s help.
Forty-two kilometres offshore of Sandakan, on the northeastern shore of Malaysian Borneo—and five kilometres from Filipino waters—our group arrives via speedboat to Selingaan Island, the administrative centre of Turtle Islands National Park. This vital island preserve is dedicated to fostering healthy populations of green and hawksbill turtles by stewarding the eggs and releasing the hatchlings. Climate change, pollution and poaching all threaten these creatures in the South China Sea. And for tourists to Malaysian Borneo, Turtle Islands offers an experience that’s one-part beach bum paradise, one part hands-On conservation effort.
Bisected by the equator and situated between mainland Southeast Asia and the Philippines, Borneo is a region of fascination unrivalled. Home to the highest mountain in Southeast Asia—a popular overnight trek—as well as dense jungles harbouring proboscis monkeys, orang-utans and pygmy elephants, tourism to the world’s third-largest island has, of late, become it’s second-largest industry. And many operators are attempting to do tourism right—hence our overnight trip to Malaysian Borneo’s Turtle Islands National Park, where we’ll be treated to a day at the beach and a night helping to conserve one of the Pacific’s keystone species.
But first things first—Selingaan Island, marked by a sign at 6 degrees 10’ north, 118 degrees 04’ east, is paradise. It is a minuscule, eight-hectare island of soft white sand, swaying coconut trees and creepy monitor lizards that skulk out from beneath the beach huts oblivious and uncaring to your presence. Anticipating a late night awaiting the return of the egg-laying turtles, we laze about on the beach, swimming in the tepid Sulu Sea, until sundown.
Momma turtle lays her eggs. No flash photography allowed!
At night, entertainment comes in the form of the Waiting Game. Turtles will return to the sands of this island to lay eggs tonight, but no one knows when. After dinner, there’s not much to do—8:00 p.m. comes and goes. By 9:00 p.m., I’m a bit tired; 10:00 p.m. sees me dozing at the dinner table. It’s off limits to venture onto the beach after sunset—here, turtles come first, tourists second. At 10:30, though, it’s officially turtle time—I’m roused from my slumber and we rush out to the shores where earlier we’d swum to find a metre-long green turtle laying a clutch of eggs into a sand pit. With no radio tag, it’s clear she’s a newcomer to Selingaan. She proceeds to lays 66 eggs; we watch in amazement of this circle of life. The parks staff tags her; an act she protests to with a few kicks of her fins. So little is known about turtle life cycle once they leave the islands, and these radio tags provide vital clues.
But the experience is only one-third done. Next up is to bury these new eggs in the rookery, protecting them from the greedy monitor lizards or regional egg poachers. And finally, with a tub of 45 green turtle hatchlings to set free, we wander back to the shoreline to complete the night’s task.
It’s a tough life to be sea turtle. We tip the tub over at the lapping shoreline and help guide these scrambling reptiles to the vast Pacific. The reason turtles lay so many eggs is to overwhelm predators with hatchlings. Most will be immediately picked off, and only the chosen few make it to out sea. And then they vanish for up to 10 years — known as the “lost years.” Eventually, some will return to these shores. Others will fall victim to pollution and hunting.
Newly hatched sea turtles venture into the unknown…
Yes, these ancient reptiles survived the Cretaceous crash, but they may not survive us. But the hard-working conservationists at Turtle Islands Park — and, from time to time, some enthusiastic travellers — strive to ensure they don’t go the way of the dinosaur just yet.
So many beaches, so little time. Let’s travel the world and track down Earth’s best beaches on the ultimate bucket-list adventure:
In This Beach Travel Article You Will Discover:
Secluded Stretches of Sand on All Continents
Lively Urban Beaches
Classic Destinations & Unknown Getaways
And So Much More!
I grew up on a beach. I live in a city by the beach. I travel to beaches around the globe. I’m a lover of the ocean and the sand; of marine wildlife and maritime legend; of grand exploration and traditional cultures.
Yes, I love beaches.
Join me on an exploration of 61 incredible beaches all travellers should visit.
Fully protected by one of Canada’s most beloved national parks, Long Beach is the largest and most popular sand stretch on Vancouver Island’s gorgeous west coast. Surfing, beachcombing and tidal pool explorations pass the days—and watch for whales on the horizon and bald eagles in the sky. This 16-kilometre-long stunner would be one of the world’s most popular beaches—if the water ever warmed above 12 degrees Celsius.
Boasting the warmest waters north of the Carolinas, and preserved within Kouchibouguac National Park, New Brunswick’s oceanside gem plays host to beach-going families throughout the warm months. Wade in tidal pools, canoe to sand dunes, spot seals and find a private place to rejuvenate along its 25-kilometre expanse.
Hawaii’s Big Island isn’t known for its sand beaches—marked mostly by lava-rock shorelines and rugged terrain—but what it has is upper-echelon. Hapuna is the biggest and most popular for good reason. Golden sand with blackrock on either end, this is a place to pass the day bodyboarding, swimming and even whale-watching.
Waimea Bay has two personalities. The most famous rears up every winter, as impossibly large waves roll in from South Pacific storms and challenge the world’s best surfers to ride 10-metre-tall killers. A lesser-known side of Waimea arrives in May—when the water is glass calm and ice-clear, temperate and, well, just lovely. Get there early in the day to secure a parking spot.
This crescent of talc-soft sand that curves from Pebble Beach to Point Lobos State Park, playing host to booze-friendly campfires and beloved by local dogs and owners alike, would be reason enough to visit this NorCal paradise. But add in the cutesy town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, home to Comstock cottages and a plethora of wine-tasting rooms, and you have a destination impossible to pass up.
Located at Land’s End, near the famed El Arco de Cabo San Lucas, Lover’s Beach is usually accessed by water taxi from the Cabo San Lucas Marina. (Though you can walk.) It’s at times crowded—but the sandstone rock formations, waters rife with multihued tropical fish and dive-bombing pelicans more than make up for any bother. Just don’t confuse it with Divorce Beach, on the Pacific side of the peninsula.
Ah, Tulum. Home to Mayan Ruins, high-end resorts, tourist hordes… but above all silky-soft sand, gently swaying palm trees and bathtub-warm ocean water. Playa Paraiso, or “Paradise Beach,” is aptly named—protected by the national park, it remains relatively undeveloped yet easily accessible. Kiteboarders and windsurfers flock to this region—but most come simply to forget the world for a while.
Aruba can be a bit congested and a bit expensive. But step one foot on Eagle Beach and you’ll realize what the fuss is about. Miles of soft white sand rim impossibly clear waters that seem to hover at an exact temperature to be both refreshing yet pleasant. The hue of the ocean is classic Caribbean—and options for watersports and accommodation abound.
If you’ve ever imagined yourself as a desert island castaway, you’ll love the San Blas Islands, located off the coast of Panama. An archipelago of nearly 400 islands and islets, and the traditional territory of the Kuna, only 49 of these landmasses are occupied. Most are rimmed in whitesand and lush with tropical fauna. Isla Carti will be your likely destination, but take time to fully explore these pristine environs and pay respect to the indigenous people who call them home.
Of all the beaches on beautiful Bermuda, Horseshoe Bay is probably the one you picture when you dream of this idyllic isle. With sand that twinkles pink in the sunlight, translucent seawater and dramatic rock formations flanking either end, Horseshoe is a beach-lover’s delight. Rent watersports gear or eat onsite; adventurous folks can explore the caves or body-surf in the rolling waves.
“Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking…” that 1960s-era bossanova tune may have set a chain of events in motion that turned Ipanema Beach from a local’s haunt to one of the planet’s busiest sandy-spots. (Remember the Rick Moranis version, too?) Yup—it’s crowded. Yup—it’s loud. Yup—it’s a bit upscale. But it’s a beach scene not to be missed—earning it a spot on every traveller’s bucket list.
Like the polar opposite of Ipanema, Baia do Sancho typifies peace and serenity. Emerald waters lap at a small golden-sand crescent flanked by lush vegetation. It seems hidden from the world (though at certain times of year, music livens up the atmosphere). It’s like Rio de Janeiro’s detox; idyllic incarnate.
If you haven’t heard of this small island chain on the Caribbean coastline of Venezuela, you’re not alone. Off-the-beaten path due to the country’s decidedly non-tourist-friendly reputation, Los Roques is free from the swarms of North American and European tourism that descends on virtually every other shore in the Caribbean. Take Cayo de Agua, for example—this talcum isthmus may well be yours alone on a visit at any time of year.
Like your own little desert island—this offbeat locale off the northern coast of Venezuela is protected by Parque Nacional Morrocoy, so it remains undeveloped and relatively pristine. If the main beach is busy, wander the shoreline to the windward side—it gets breezy, but you may find respite. Snorkel, swim, sunbathe—life’s a beach, right?
You’ll brim with anticipation as you wander through the hour-long trek atop a wooden boardwalk in a lush forest of matasarno trees. Once you arrive at the beach—explore at your pleasure. Will you search for sea turtles? (Keep your distance.) Surf the rough-and-tumble waves? (Seasonal.) Snorkel in the calm, sea life-rich lagoons? Or simply marvel that you’ve arrived in the birthplace of Darwinism: the famed Galapagos.
Feel like getting away from it all? How about a visit to Rapa Nui, on legendary Easter Island? Located about 3,700 kilometres offshore of mainland Chile, along with playing host to the famous Moai this diminutive landmass is also home to gorgeous beaches. Playa Ovahe, on the northeast side of the island, might just be the best—a pristinely preserved, quiet stretch of sand to while away the days on this lonely South Pacific isle.
Set on Colombia’s rainy and lush Pacific Coast, in the Bahia Solano region, the area around Termales-Agua Caliente is a vibrant, verdant feast for the senses. Most of these actual beaches are nameless—remote stretches of iron-grey sand, dotted with weather-beaten rocks and rimmed with rich rainforest and colourful flowers. Explore at will—just remember to visit the main attractions, Termales, a natural hot (well, warm) spring hidden just in from the coast, in a grove of mahogany trees.
Four beaches so nice we couldn’t break them up! Some of the hallmarks of beautiful Tayrona National Park, on Colombia’s Caribbean coastline, this quadruplet of sandy stretches begs for long days in the surf, beachcombing and wildlife-watching (like howler monkeys). Cañaveral is the most easily accessible, but savvy travelers will take a week to fully explore this exciting region.
Seeming more a part of Central America than South, San Andres sits 700 kilometres northwest of mainland Colombia—smack in the crystal waters of the Caribbean Sea. Known as a diving hotspot—with abundant sting rays—the island of San Andreas features both a tourism hub for travellers who like it lively, as well as rural side for a relaxed getaway. Do both in one trip and fully rejuvenate on this Colombian outpost.
Not generally regarded as a beach destination, Las Grutas, in Argentinian Patagonia, offers some of the warmest seawaters in the entire country—thanks to a regional tidal phenomenon. Set alongside a village of about 8,000, this area sees a fair bit of tourism in the summer months, when daily temperatures average in the high 20s, but adventurous travellers can head there off-season for a more serene (but likely without swimming) beach getaway.
Kuta Beach gets way too much criticism. Sure—seeing the McDonald’s Golden Arches peering above the palm trees isn’t exactly idyllic. And the hawkers can get a bit annoying. Plus, it’s busy. But it’s also stunning—and its lengthy stretch of sand offers some of the most easily surfable waves on the planet. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a better place to learn to ride waves (that also offers cheap beer and fried noodles onsite). Worthy of a few days during any visit to this equatorial island.
You know it’s going to be an adventure when you’re asked to sign a waiver regarding “pirate activity.” That’s just step one of getting to Turtle Islands National Park, located off the northeastern shore of Malaysian Borneo. The tougher part is getting a reservation. And the toughest part is leaving—you’ll likely only get one night on this wildlife preserve, enough time to roam the sand beaches, watch momma turtles lay eggs and run in terror from the giant lizards that seem to always pop out at the most inopportune times.
Arguably the most scenic beach in a country rife with them, popular Long Beach (which also might just be the most popular beach-moniker in the world) typifies life on Malaysia’s Perhentian Islands. Book a stay at a beach house, dine out for a dime, search for sea turtles, kayak, snorkel or simply snooze in the sun. You’ll soon understand why the word Perhentian means “stopping point.”
Tucked away near the Cambodian border, it’s fair to say the secret is out about Ko Chang. Once a backpacker’s hideaway, it’s now seeing ever-more tourism; international sun worshippers drawn in by lengthy stretches of talcum sand, warm water, cheap bungalows and beachside dining. White Sand Beach is the most popular and populous, but at the right time of year a secluded stretch of sand is still easy to track down on this, Thailand’s most idyllic island.
Like a pilgrimage all backpackers must make, Thailand’s famous Maya Bay beckons anyone who was drawn into travel through the DiCaprio flick, The Beach. Yup, it was filmed at this exact location—and save a little CGI that closed in the entrance to this limestone-rimmed stunner, it looks just like it did on-screen. Pro tip—travel on days when the weather is stormy, otherwise tourist hordes may dull your vibe.
Ah, Railay Beach—jewel of Krabi. Home to rock climbers, beach bums, pre-college backpackers, hippies and luxury travellers (who pretty much keep to themselves). Whether you rent a hotel room, a beach shack or stay at a luxe all-inclusive, Railay delivers. Spend time in the warm Andaman Sea, marvel at the iconic sea stacks, wander through a cave full of giant bats… Railay has it all.
Cebu is the Filipino paradise you’ve been looking for, and Bounty Beach, on Malapascua Island may just rise to the top of the region’s selection of world-class sands. Stroll below swaying palms, snorkel in the corals, pick fresh fruit and rejuvenate. At certain times of year, the beach gets busy—but the further you wander from the main access, more you’ll be rewarded with serenity.
Join me on an exploration of the largest vehicle-accessible glacier in the United States.
In This Alaska Travel Article You Will Discover:
How to Find a Massive Glacier
Stunning Icy Imagery
Travel Tips & Info
Alaska is a knockout. The natural environments throughout this leviathan state are cranked-up to 11; exaggerated to impress.
Ragged mountain peaks stab upwards to 5,000 metres or more. Wave-sculpted shorelines merge the lushness of the Pacific Northwest with the wilderness of the True North. Aurora borealis dances overhead; tundra expands endlessly to into the Arctic. Omnipresent wildlife—moose, bears, caribou, wolves—serve as reminders that humans are the interlopers in the frontier state.
Take the Matanuska Glacier, for example. This slow-moving tongue of ice stretches more than 40 kilometres into the Chugach Mountains from alongside Alaska’s Glenn Highway. It’s a Valley Glacier—a river of ice that has been sliding betwixt massifs for 10,000 years. At its widest point, it’s about six kilometres in breadth. It moves slowly, about 30 centimetres per day, edging forward then melting back.
Located 160 kilometres from Anchorage, it’s the largest car-accessible glacier in America. And it’s easy to get up-close-and-personal with, like I did last September.
(Yeah, I’ve been waiting a while to post this. Summer is glacier-walk season.)
Follow me on a tour of the Matanuska Glacier—one of the most breathtaking natural wonders in a state absolutely rife with them.
Slow moving, slow melting—this is the Matanuska Glacier.
Helmets? Check. Crampons? Check. Let’s go!
Do you trust your crampons?
How deep? Who knows…
The terrain changes abruptly; something I love about the North.
We thought at first this was water. It’s ice.
The striations in the ice were my favourite feature.
Kind of an obligatory shot. (We all did it.)
Our guide was actually getting grumpy with us here. (Like, yeah, we wanna stop for photos. Can I live?)
My choice? Go in the autumn. The juxtaposition of colours is beautiful.
Interested? Click to Salmon Berry Tours. Stop for a burger and a beer at Long Rifle Lodge afterwards. The dining room overlooks the ice and they have rooms for rent as well, if you’re road-tripping further afield.
Read Full Article
Read for later
Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
Scroll to Top
Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.